The Orlando Magic own one of the best records in the Eastern Conference, but they have struggled against teams above .500. They’ll have several chances to put an end to that problem on their upcoming five-game homestand.
The Magic hope to bounce back from a blowout loss and string together some wins over quality opponents beginning Saturday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Orlando (19-7) advanced to the NBA Finals last season but hasn’t looked much like a team with championship aspirations at times this year.
In Thursday’s 104-86 loss to Miami, the Magic fell behind 33-18 after one quarter and trailed by as much as 29 points.
“We need to start games with an energy and a focus and we just didn’t do that,” coach Stan Van Gundy said.
Dwight Howard(notes) carried the Magic with 17 points and 14 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double, but Rashard Lewis(notes) matched a season low with nine points and went 3 of 9 from the field.
Orlando has lost three of five with all those defeats coming against teams with winning records.
“The reality of the situation is that if you look at the standings right now we are 4-6 against teams that are over .500,” Van Gundy said. “The reality is that if you want to talk about being a championship contender that can’t be good enough for you.”
Orlando would look more like a championship contender with a strong showing over the next two weeks.
After opening the homestand against Portland, the Magic host Utah, Houston, Boston and Milwaukee. The Trail Blazers (16-11), Jazz, Rockets and Celtics all currently have winning records.
Facing these teams in Orlando should be a big advantage for the Magic, who are 9-2 at Amway Arena this season.
The Blazers, who open a four-game road trip with this contest, have dropped six of seven away from Portland after starting the season 5-1 outside the Rose Garden.
Portland and Orlando split their two games last season with each team winning on the road.
The Blazers arrive in Orlando after rallying to beat Phoenix 105-102 on Thursday at home. Portland overcame a 15-point third-quarter deficit, thanks to the play of third-string point guard Jerryd Bayless(notes).
With Andre Miller(notes) forced to the bench after being hit in the face with a forearm, Bayless stepped in and scored a career-high 29 points for the Blazers, who have won consecutive games after dropping six of eight. Bayless, a second-year pro from Arizona, scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, including three free throws in the final 9 seconds.
With injuries to Nicolas Batum(notes) (shoulder), Travis Outlaw(notes) (left foot), Rudy Fernandez(notes) (sciatic pain) and Greg Oden(notes) (left kneecap), Bayless could be counted on for more performance like this.
“He’s getting the opportunity to play and making the most of it,” coach Nate McMillan said. “We know JB can put points on the board. With all the guys that we have out, we need him.”
The two-time All-Star finished with 27 points and eight rebounds against the Suns, and is averaging 26.0 points in his last seven games. In two games against the Magic last season, Roy averaged 28.5 points, his third-highest scoring average against any opponent in 2008-09.